“That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:5
“Who’s your daddy?” That’s what coach Boone asked a prideful player on his team. This was at a time when racial prejudice was high and the school system was desegregating their school in Alexandria, Virginia. The young man came with his pride and request for his team mates and coach Boone refused the request, got in his face, and asked, “Who’s your daddy?” Because to be on his football team, this young man would have to be under his authority, not his own, and not the authority of the world around him or even his parents. When on that team, this young man was going to have to focus on everything this coach expected and demanded. Would he start understanding that? “Who’s your daddy?” His quiet answer was, “You.” So, the question today is, “Who’s my daddy?”
In 2003, I meditated on 1 Corinthians 2. And here are my thoughts and prayers from that morning. Lord, let the only thing of importance be unto me Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Let Your Spirit and power be seen through and in me. Don’t let it be just my words. Oh, Lord, that my faith would never stand in the wisdom of men, but in Your power alone. We are all fallible, but You are not. Lord, You have shared Your wisdom with us who believe though those outside don’t understand. Daily You reveal Yourself and Your promises to me by Your Spirit which not only seeks and investigates all hearts, but knows the depths of the things of God and shares them with me. Lord, we as man don’t even know ourselves, except through Your Spirit. How would we know You? Open my heart to the things that You have freely given me. Lord, I pray for spiritual discernment. Teach me to judge all things. I am not under the scrutiny of man. You are my only judge. Christ knows Your mind, oh Lord. We may know it too because we have the mind of Christ. I have the mind of Christ. Let me live this truth.
Yes, today I still pray that I would live this truth, that when You look me in the face and ask, “Who’s Your Daddy?” I would not look with my head held down in shame, but with head held high and full of delight I want to answer “YOU!” Paul was like that. Here was a man, unlike me, who was a top-knotch scholar expected to be one of the greatest rabbis of his time. But he didn’t approach preaching by using his excellent speech skills, power of persuasion, or all his stores of wisdom. What was he declaring the power of God with? What was he declaring the testimony, the witness of God with? Jesus.
Paul decided, he determined, that nothing else mattered for sharing except to share the witness of Jesus Christ and the power of His crucifixion. See, the crucifixion has this glorious supernatural outcome. Everyone else who’s ever been crucified, well, they wind up dead and crucified. But not Jesus, not You. You wind up alive though crucified. Now that’s something to declare! The wisdom of man says that doesn’t happen and it can’t. But the power of God says, “Look here, I can do what man can’t do. I have done it. I am alive. I’m alive because I’m God and You can’t kill God. And imagine if You are for me and You are mine. Imagine the ramifications of that.” Wow! That’s the testimony of God speaking. Blows the mind of the wise, doesn’t it?
But Paul goes on to say, “And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.” What does that mean? That word for weak is the Greek word “astheneia.” That “a” is a negative in front of “sthenoo” which means “strength or power.” Therefore, it means without strength or power. It’s used for the sick people that Jesus healed who were sick in body and spirit. When we are like that we can’t do it ourselves. We’re helpless. That’s pretty much our condition and Paul was saying it was his condition. “I’m powerless.” Admitting our weakness is the first step in getting over our addiction to ourself. Think of all the things, like Paul, we’re powerless over. I’m powerless to stop what rages inside of me, to stop doing what I don’t want to or ought not to, powerless to lift myself up out of the pit, and more. We’re all there, just as Paul was.
But Paul doesn’t stop with weakness. He also said they were together in fear. What kind of fear? Why? I wish I understood. I think Paul experienced fear in a way that I haven’t. I mean, here in the U.S., I live a fairly sheltered life. What do I know of real, every day, day after day fear? I know that for Paul, not only was he handling false teachers rising up against him, but he’s experienced being stoned and being beaten many times. Is that what he was afraid of?
In Hebrews 10:31, Paul tells us, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Really? Both places here are looking at the Greek word from “phobos.” The Hebrew word equivalent is yare. Skip Moen puts it this way, “Sudden, sheer terror–life turned into flying shrapnel–is more likely the message.” I think of those who have to confront evil every day as an ordinary part of their lives. I think of the testimony I see in them. Those who haven’t avoided all confrontation with evil, those who have had to face it in their weakness and rely on Your strength and power alone, they are the ones who know, I mean really know, the majesty, the testimony, the witness of Your good.
And as though weakness and fear weren’t enough, Paul adds trembling, and not just trembling, but much trembling. The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon defines this trembling as a “trembling or quaking with fear.” It also is “used to describe the anxiety of one who distrusts his ability completely to meet all requirements, but religiously does his utmost to fulfil his duty.” Now, I don’t think that Paul was going through and fulfilling religious duty here. But I do think that Paul distrusted his own ability, his own worthiness, his own skills of persuasion, his own heart. And because he felt this way about his own weakness, and his fear, and his trembling; because they were a reflection of the dependence of not only his heart but his life on You, Lord, he could rely fully on His Daddy.
Therefore, he was the first to realize that his speaking and his preaching wasn’t of effect because he used all the right words or because he was charismatic or because he was wise or persuasive. He knew that the power of his preaching was because the Holy Spirit was empowering his words, empowering his testimony of You, empowering the hearts of the listeners. He knew that faith doesn’t come from man or from man’s wisdom or man’s understanding. Faith comes from and is in the power of God.
The weak find faith. They realize they need You. They realize they are helpless, no matter how great they were in the world’s eyes. The weak find strength in You. The fearful need a Deliverer. The one’s who live in fiery and fearful circumstances need a Rescuer. They know what rescue and deliverance look like and feel like. The one who trembles at his own frailty, his own disability, his own inability, is the one who looks to Another.
And Paul said, “I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.” Is this the life of faith that we as believers are living together? Paul was with the Corinthians in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. Am I with my fellow believers in the same way or am I just doing my own thing, thinking I’m doing good, but not really experiencing life, and I mean real life, together with them and with You? It’s so easy to live life in a comfort zone, but I wonder if that’s Your zone at all God? Maybe I’m not really living as You intended until I experience You in weakness, and in fear, and in trembling, with my brothers and sisters in You.
“Who’s my Daddy?” You. But that also means that I have brothers and sisters out there. And I need to be a real sibling to them. There’s experiences in You we were meant to have together so that we, together, would have a greater and living witness in the world.